Archive | June, 2012

How important is biology?

25 Jun

Coming back after our Maui vacation it was really hard to face all this again and even to come back to blogging.  For a week I felt like I was a different person and was able to take a real break from the grief and stress.   It all started right up again when I returned.  Just like before, when my mind wanders it goes straight to the grief/stress/feelings of hopelessness.  After my one week break, at least I know there is another side of me in here that can be happy and relaxed and isn’t defined by the events of the last 4 years.  Because of this I came back feeling restored with batteries recharged and much better prepared to face the ongoing and seemingly long road ahead.

So here I am looking ahead and considering our options.  Before we left our IVF doc recommended we move on to surrogacy or egg donor suggesting those as more likely to work after my 6 losses.  Shock set in, tears were shed and the fantasy of the miracle of bearing my own biological child one day died.  Since then I picked myself up and started shopping for donors and surrogates and have now entered the world of the donor agencies, screening profiles and taking stock of how much all of this stuff costs and how much just goes to the agency itself and lawyers.

On Friday (two days ago) I had a follow up with my original RE, the one I had my previous 3 natural pregnancies (via monitored cycles and Femara).  She and I have been working together now for over two years.  After seeing her so much over the years (and her seeing so much of me, ALL of me, from ultrasounds, 3 D&C’s and 1 laporoscopy, + other visits) I have a deep trust for her and I think she knows me and my body better than anyone (even me).  In our discussion she took another perspective and felt like surrogacy was maybe a bit farther than we needed to go.  She suggested looking at 5-day chromosomal testing with an IVF cycle.  The thought is maybe with 5-day testing we could actually get more embryos than we did with the 3-day testing we did for our first cycle.  According to the research, some that look abnormal on day 3, may look normal on day 5 and vice versa.  Of course, this raises the question of why didn’t we just do 5-day testing the first time!  Our IVF Dr. seemed to think the pros of doing a fresh cycle outweighed the cons of the 5-day test that requires freezing.  So here is the plan, we are moving ahead with another cycle with 5-day testing.  PRAYING for lots of embryos.  If we get 4 we will put 2 in me and leave the others for a surrogate.  The beauty of frozen (if we have any that survive) is that we don’t have to decide everything right now.  However, if we only get 2, I might not want to risk them being implanted in me. Or maybe we will find out the embryos are all abnormal and won’t waste time on a surrogate.

Meanwhile we met with a surrogacy/egg donor agency on Saturday.  It oddly gave me a lot of optimism about our options if we want to go that route.  We started talking even about egg donors.  That process is so much less expensive and more manageable compared with surrogacy.  Also there are way more donors.  Both my IVF doc and my RE seem to think that maybe I can’t carry MY embros, but there is a chance that maybe it would work with a donor.  the reasoning is that we tested positive for something called DQ-alpha.  My husband and I have a high match (we aren’t genetically different enough).  Because of this (the theory goes) my body doesn’t recognize the embryo as a baby (which triggers a pregnancy response) and instead thinks it is a strange part of me and kills it off.  If that is the case either egg donor or surrogacy would solve it.   Surrogacy is a safer bet, but a way huger deal.  It all comes down to what is more important, the genetic relationship or the pregnancy/birth experience.  So that is the choice swirling in my brain right now.  I have little information to go on to make the decision and very few role models of people who were successful with either one after recurrent loss.  In fact for recurrent loss I am only familiar with two outcomes- miraculous inexplicable success that just randomly happened OR adoption.  Do you know of any other outcomes?  Also I don’t know of any cases of egg donor or surrogacy successes.  They are rare enough, but particularly rare after recurrent loss.

Meanwhile I am praying that I will get inexplicably lucky and have success without having to make this choice.  Don’t we all pray for this?  I don’t know anyone else who was debating between these two.  Normally you have one issue or the other and the choice is that or adoption.  Mr. Star is still squarely against adoption leaving me to choose one hard thing or another.  Tomorrow night is our wedding anniversary (8 years!) and we are spending it appropriately at the Stanford Seminar- “Options for Building Families” which explores all these third party alternatives.  It is perfect for us because we are basically exploring them all.  I am going to make a leap and guess that all the panelists are happy with their decisions and love their children.  I’ve never heard anyone say I wish I hadn‘t adopted or used an egg donor, etc.  I think when the baby arrives and the bonding starts your brain responds and you really are genuinely thrilled with the outcome.  Hopefully a healthy does of amnesia comes in as well helping you forget the pain you experienced getting to that point.   In a way I feel like whatever works in the end is what was meant to be and I will be genuinely happy with whoever the child is that results.  In the meantime I struggle with having to make difficult choices of what path to take, hoping for the one that after such a long journey leads us to the shortest and least painful path.

Last day on Maui

19 Jun

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On holiday

12 Jun

Thank you for everyone who has been following along.  I admit that my attempt to have a baby story has gone on way longer than I ever could imagine!  I SO appreciate your comments and posts and it means so much to me that you took the time to stop by.  This can be a lonely journey, but it feels a lot less lonely with your company and support.

To help recover from everything and treat ourselves a little Mr. Star and I are taking some time off and going to Maui for a week.  We leave tomorrow morning and I can’t wait!  We are celebrating 9 years together.  Although this is sadly not a baby-moon too, the one positive is that I don’t have a pregnancy (aka impending miscarriage) to stress about, which does make it a more relaxing trip.  Nothing is off limits.  Swimming, hot tubbing, wine, exotic foods (sushi and cheeses),  sex and water sports – all part of a good vacation are back on the menu.

When we get back it will be back to all this stuff again, We are scheduled to meet with two surrogacy agencies after we return.  We found two candidates we actually like!  If you have any surrogacy stories or know of any surrogacy blogs that I should check out, please let me know!  We are still new at this and finding our way around.

I also want to update my blog page.  My husband warned me to use a different image saying that it was bad luck.  He said that since there were 6 starfish, which meant we would have 6 miscarriages (we had only had 3-4 at the time).  Wouldn’t you know it, it came true!  Stay tuned for something new.

I wish i was a seahorse

2 Jun

We had our follow up consultation with the IVF doc yesterday.  I left the fall feeling crest fallen.  He advised that given our history that it wasn’t worth it to try again.  He thought it would be a waste of time.  Instead he recommended that our best shot at biological children was with a gestational carrier.  He confirmed what we thought all along.  There is something wrong with me that we currently have no treatment for.

The alternative to the gestational carrier would be to try IVF with an egg donor.  From there Mr. Star and I debated the pros and cons of each.  Since it sounds like our embryos are fine (as far as we know) the gestational carrier makes the most sense.  Also I think in the long term, having the biology will outweigh the carrying/giving birth connection.  At this point I think my embryos would be safest in anyone other than me.  Hell, I think even Snookie could be a good surrogate at this point.

While I had suspicions of this all along I also had deluded fantasies that if we just kept trying one of these days something would work.  Even now I have fantasies that we will get pregnant naturally and magically have a healthy full term baby.  I’d heard so many anecdotal stories that ended with this.  Why couldn’t that happen to us?  The statistics seemed to be on our side, at least in the beginning.  70% of women who have had 3 losses go on and have a healthy pregnancy.  Remember that?  Once it gets to 6 losses the odds are down to only 40%.  So after 10 are your chances only 0%?  Maybe statistics in this case are not very helpful, or even applicable.  The statistical odds of having 6 miscarriages are so low that I don’t think anyone can really explain what someone in that situation can expect.

Changing gears really feels like giving up, especially considering how long we’ve been on this path.  Part of me is grateful for his honesty and not getting our hopes up for another try that would also end in failure.  Maybe this is just what we needed to finally stop trying and give up on having a baby the “normal” way.  Normal at this point just means I conceive in some way or another and carry to term a biological baby.    Giving up natural conception to IVF was a huge blow.  Now giving up the pregnancy is the next.  Logically we should have gone to adoption years ago.  But Mr. Star didn’t and still doesn’t think we are at that point.  And I had my own struggles with the concept of having a biological mother out there who is “the real mother”.  So we are left with two options both super expensive and both assuming a major loss for me either to my biology or to my role as the carrier.  And it goes without saying that both are giant blows to our bank account (and my ego, what’s left of it that is).

To top it off, after this dismal phone consultation I had a rough rest of the day.  I had an appointment to see a my new counselor for the second appointment but somehow I mixed up the time and arrived 30 minutes too late.  The receptionist told me after I arrived (and drove 25 minutes in rush hour traffic) that she needed to reschedule and that I was late.  I thought I arrived right on time and was more than ready to have a chance to talk about all this stuff going on for me with someone.  Instead I felt like I had the reverse of counseling. I got back in my car totally upset and angry and now having to drive 25 minutes back home in rush hour traffic knowing the whole drive was a waste and it was my fault.  To top it off, they told me that she had to go because “she has to pick up her daughter”.  I barely know this person, but now I already know she is a mom with a young daughter.  I can’t help but think of this the next time we meet.  I really don’t want to know this about my c0unselor.  Seriously!

And finally we had plans for dinner with friends.  They brought their 2-year old with them and I just spontaneously burst into tears.  It was totally awkward and everyone was averting their eyes and trying to change the subject to something funny.  Normally we get together afterwards to hang out, but they didn’t even bring it up.  It was like I was left out to dry with my grief and burned a bridge at the same time.